Alpha Male Ryan: On convicted felons and guns.

Alpha Male Ryan believes convicted felons like himself should be able to own a gun, if they can use it on the job. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

Editor’s Note: Florida is one of several states that has a lengthy waiting period before felons released from prison can have their civil rights restored. That includes the right to vote, serve on a jury, serve in the military, and obtain certain occupational licenses. Last year, Florida’s Executive Clemency Board voted to require nonviolent felons who have completed their sentence, finished probation and made full restitution to undergo a five-year waiting period, then begin an application process for restoration of rights.
Alpha Male Ryan is a convicted felon who just got out of prison, and does not have those civil rights. He thinks ex-felons should also be allowed to get one other right restored: the right to own a gun.

Should convicted felons be allowed to own a gun? I think it depends on the crime and their history. But I used to work in armed security, and I carried guns. If a felon once held a job with firearms, and never had any trouble on the job, why should we not let him do what he was trained to do and licensed to do? You want them to pay full restitution, right? Well, they can pay it off a lot sooner if they can work in their field.
If they don’t think I’m recidivized, then don’t do it. But if you do think rehabilitation has worked with me, why not let me carry a gun legally — and earn a living and support my family while I’m doing it?

I started using guns when I was young. I learned how to aim and shoot at the Boy Scouts camp I went to. I learned how to use a shotgun, bow, rifle, maybe the occasional handgun. I liked it.
I liked shooting and hunting. It was kind of the thing to do growing up. I went hunting in the woods – nothing serious, just to go out there with my friends with BB guns or rifles. If we saw something like a rabbit, we’d shoot it, bring it with us, and eat it. Me and my buddies would cook it out in the woods.
I liked survivalist training with my buddies. You don’t have to be scared of animals you’d normally be scared of. If you see a lion and you’ve got a gun, you can take care of it. It’s a challenge, but you’ve got to know what you’re doing.
Have common sense when you use a gun. Train your children how to use one when they’re young. My son, I’d give him a bubble gun, and I wouldn’t ever let him aim that at people. He would know not to aim his bubble gun at people.
But you start the training when they’re young. Ninety-nine percent of the time, if there’s an accident, it’s user error rather than equipment error. A pen doesn’t misspell words. The person using the pen misspells words. A hammer doesn’t hit a finger unless the person holding the hammer directed it to.
I think the state should require an extensive training course on gun use and gun safety before anyone can get a gun license – and have the cops crack down on anyone who gets caught without one. Straight to prison. No probation.
People committing crimes with gun violence are just criminals who have no respect for the law. That being said, if they outlaw guns for everybody, those criminals are not going to respect that law, either. So that’s taking the sticks away from the hens in the hen house and leaving it open for the wolves. Now you’ve got no defense.

It's a mistake to disarm law-abiding citizens, Alpha Male Ryan says. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

In fact, going to prison doesn’t mean you can’t get a gun. I found you could get them in prison. I don’t think it was so much the guards bringing them in as people who come in and out of the prison gates and don’t get searched each time. They can come right in with one.
There were gun scares while I was in prison. At lunch, you’d see the corrections officers digging out in the main yard to find guns hidden there. I worked outside and I’d see officers digging up the yard and digging up the bleachers to find where the gun was. There was a rumor that there were some guns hidden on the grounds.
You’d hear rumors like that all the time. They’d lock down the prison, and the corrections officers would come in and tear up the cells looking for them.
Holding a gun makes you feel superior. You are the caveman now — you just conquered what you’re supposed to conquer. I’ve had a shotgun aimed at me by a guard in prison because it was max security. That means if I did anything, they didn’t have to do anything to justify shooting me. It was a bit unnerving. There were snipers in the towers, too, although the rumor was they couldn’t really shoot for s**t, so I was told.
I consider a gun a tool, just like a hammer or a handsaw or a drill, because these tools are all designed to do a job. For most people who use guns, including those guards, it’s a feeling of power – and a feeling of safety, like a crutch for people that otherwise would be getting their head handed to them every day. I guess it’s the great equalizer, as was said in the cowboy days.

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